Rhoades, Gavin, & Zeta Brown (2019). Q-methodology: A science of subjectivity. In Mike Lambert & Jyothsna Latha Belliappa (Eds.), Practical research methods in education: An early researcher’s critical guide (pp. 88-102, Chap 9). London: Routledge.
Abstract: Q-methodology, or ‘Q’, is a unique, flexible methodology for exploring people’s opinions, perspectives and attitudes. This chapter first discusses Q’s key elements, including the ‘concourse’ of possible attitudes on a topic, the Q-set of statements which participants place on a distribution grid to show agreement or disagreement, and the Q-sort, the completed grid. The chapter then presents a nine-stage process of conducting a Q study, with examples of a grid template, a Q-sort and a set of analysed data, all drawn from the authors’ own Q studies. The use of additional qualitative methods alongside Q is also examined. Key elements of analysis (usually done with computer software) are explained, including ‘forced distribution’, which limits the number of extreme positions which participants can take, and ‘variance’, the overall differences of opinion as expressed across all completed Q-sorts. A former student then reflects on use of Q in her undergraduate dissertation, and the chapter concludes by reviewing in detail analysis and interpretation of data from a recent Q-based evaluation of a project to encourage school students to apply for university.
Gavin Rhoades <firstname.lastname@example.org> is in the Centre for Developmental and Applied Research (CeDARE) and Zeta Brown <email@example.com> is in the Education Observatory, Faculty of Education Health & Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton, UK.